Four Navy destroyers recently deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to support NATO allies, according to the U.S. Navy.
“The U.S. Navy destroyers USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) and USS Mitscher (DDG 57) are operating in the European theater of operations,” Navy spokesman Cmdr. Arlo Abrahamson said in a statement. “Throughout their deployment, they will participate in a range of maritime activities in support of the U.S. Sixth Fleet and our NATO allies.”
The ships left their home ports in Norfolk, Virginia, and Mayport, Florida, recently, but the Navy said the deployments were not in response to any actions or any anticipated actions by Russia.
Rather, the deployments are designed to provide additional flexibility to the 6th Fleet, Abrahamson said.
USNI News first reported that the destroyers had deployed to Europe.
The Donald Cook has been based in Mayport since July, after previously completing seven years as a forward-deployed destroyer in Rota, Spain. Four U.S. Navy destroyers are based there.
The Sullivans also wrapped up a deployment in November with the United Kingdom’s aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth, which completed its maiden deployment to the 2nd, 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of operations.
Aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman and it’s carrier strike group deployed in December and conducted the Mediterranean Sea exercise Neptune Strike 22 with NATO allies in late January and early February.
The guided-missile destroyers Bainbridge, Cole, Gravely and Jason Dunham, the guided-missile cruiser San Jacinto, Carrier Air Wing 1 and staff from Carrier Strike Group 8, comprise the Truman’s strike group.
The Royal Norwegian Navy’s frigate Fridtjof Nansen also deployed with the strike group.
Neptune Strike 22, which wrapped up Feb. 4, involved maritime maneuvers, anti-submarine warfare training and long-range strike training.
“It’s designed to demonstrate NATO’s ability to integrate the high-end maritime strike capabilities of an aircraft carrier strike group to support the deterrence and defense of the alliance,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters Jan. 21.
Kirby stressed that the exercise was not in response to heightened tension with Russia, which has deployed 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border and launched its own massive maritime exercise last month.
The Truman, along with the Bainbridge, Gravely and San Jacinto, is still operating in the 6th Fleet, while the Cole and Jason Dunham are operating in U.S. 5th Fleet, according to the Navy.
USNI News reported that the composition of ships in 6th Fleet is the largest gathering of U.S Navy ships there since 2018, according to their carrier deployment database.
As tension with Russia has escalated amid concerns that Moscow will invade Ukraine, the White House has ordered U.S. troops to deploy to Germany, Poland and Romania, and others are on heightened alert for a potential deployment.